Progressive Breakfast is the morning roundup of what progressive movement members need to know to start the day.
Whither The Auto Rescue
While the House passed a $15B temporary auto rescue plan last night, media coverage today focused on potential difficulties clearing the Senate, with most of the Republican minority resisting pleas from the Bush White House.
NYT reports: “Senator George V. Voinovich, an Ohio Republican who is one of the few outspoken Republican supporters of a taxpayer-backed rescue, emerged from the lunch sounding deeply pessimistic.”
And NY Daily News: “Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who supports the proposal, said the current bill lacks the votes to pass. Since Obama’s resignation from the Senate last month, the Democrats have a 50-49 edge in the chamber and would need 60 votes to overcome an expected GOP filibuster.”
But will there be a filibuster? W. Times reports: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did not threaten a Republican filibuster but said many members voiced concerns about the plan.”
Politico reports the fallback plan may be to tap TARP rs: “And [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] said this could mean that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will have to do what he hasn’t wanted: tap financial rescue funds to keep General Motors Corp from falling into bankruptcy in President Bush’s last weeks in office. ‘He may. He may,’ Pelosi said.”
The Bush White House sends the Commerce Secretary to the W. Post oped page to rally Republicans behind the auto rescue.
D-Day lambastes obstructionist Senators as “neo-Hooverists who are putting us on the road to a completely deindustrialized and unsustainable America.”
On the green front. AP reports: “Democrats agreed to scrap language — which the White House had declared a deal-breaker — that would have forced the carmakers to drop lawsuits challenging tough emissions limits in California and other states. But they kept a provision to force the automakers to abide by those states’ limits — a kind of consolation prize for environmentalists, who already were livid at the raid of the fuel-efficiency program.”
W. Post said that House provision has “alarmed Senate leaders” and they “drafted their own version of the bill that would require the car companies to comply only with ‘federal standards,’ which require cars to average 35 mpg by 2020.”
Yet the NYT editorial board notes the silliness of the dispute, because the automakers’ own plans say they will attain the CA standards: “In the business plan submitted to Congress on Dec. 2, G.M. stated that it could quickly and significantly improve on that performance: promising 37 m.p.g. in passenger cars and more than 27 m.p.g. in S.U.V.’s and pickups by 2012. Ford’s plan indicated that it could do almost as well. According to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, with those fuel-efficiency levels, G.M. and Ford could without much difficulty meet California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards nationwide.”
More disturbing economic news
Marketwatch on another bad jobs report from this morning: “The U.S. labor market weakened further last week, with the number of first-time filings for state unemployment benefits jumping by 58,000 to a 26-year high of 573,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday … The jobless claims report shows businesses are laying off workers at a rapid pace, and finding a replacement job is ever harder for those who’ve lost their job.”
The Big Picture posts new foreclosure numbers from RealityTrac: Foreclosures up 28% in the past year. Down 7% from Oct., but that’s just because of new laws lengthening the foreclosure process. Next year expect “pretty significant storm.”
Krugman worried Germany will be tight-fisted: “policy coordination is essential [in Europe] but you won’t get coordination if policymakers in the biggest European economy refuse to go along. And if Germany prevents an effective European response, this adds significantly to the severity of the global downturn.”
More baseless conservative attacks on government responses
USA Today reports the post-bailout obvious: “Federal Share of Economy Soaring,” and largely quotes critics of increased public investment with no rebuttals. Heritage line: “Excess government spending has been shown to reduce economic growth. The more money spent by politicians in government, the less spending is available for the private sector, which is the sector that usually creates more productivity.” Left out of the story: pretty much every economist is calling for government spending and de-prioritizing deficit reduction to get our $15 trillion economy — now in recession after eight years of anti-govt conservatism — moving again.
WSJ misreports own poll, distorts support for infrastructure
WSJ writes up new NBC/WSJ poll and says: “Asked to choose among a list of economic-stimulus ideas, there was significant support for tax cuts for the middle class, but little for the infrastructure spending Mr. Obama has proposed.”
That’s highly misleading. The poll question (PDF) reads: “Let me read you five aspects of Barack Obama’s short-term economic stimulus plan. In your opinion, which one of the following is the most important?” It does not ask what aspects people don’t support at all. “Transportation infrastructure” may trail “tax cuts for middle- and lower-class Americans” (which only received a plurality of 30%) in order of importance, but that’s not the same as having “little” support.
Further, WSJ ignored that “More investment in alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power” scored well, only 9 points behind tax cuts. Newsflash: that’s infrastructure too.
Our $900B Main Street Recovery Plan includes all of these components, infrastructure investment and middle-class tax cuts.
Daschle formally nominated for HHS Secretary today 11 AM ET
W. Post reports: “Health care is already emerging as a top tier issue for the Obama team. In his radio address last weekend, the soon-to-be-president said he hoped to include additional federal dollars for Medicaid and money for health information technology in the next stimulus package. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said today he wants to have the bill ready the first week of January.”
TNR’s Jonathan Cohn: “Pay particular attention to what Obama says about priorities: Which parts of reform will he emphasize? (Increasing access? Reducing costs? Improving quality?) How quickly does he plan to pursue reform? Health care reform will cost money in the short run; how quickly must a scheme start paying for itself? And–if somebody thinks to ask–what does Obama think about the ongoing efforts in Congress, particularly the Senate, where Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy have been working on a bill for months?”
Enviro bloggers praise latest Cabinet picks, particularly Chu for Energy
Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson “President-elect Barack Obama’s reported selection of Dr. Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy is a bold stroke to set the nation on the path to a clean energy economy. Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is the sixth director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Department of Energy-funded basic science research institution managed by the University of California. After moving to Berkeley Lab from Stanford University in 2004, Chu “has emerged internationally to champion science as society’s best defense against climate catastrophe.” As director, Chu has steered the direction of Berkeley Lab to addressing the climate crisis, pushing for breakthrough research in energy efficiency, solar energy, and biofuels technology.”
Climate Progress’ Joe Romm: “A Nobelist for Energy Secretary who gets both climate and energy efficiency”
The Seminal’s Josh Nelson: “Adults Put Back in Charge at DOE.”
Booman Tribune: “He is not filling his administration with donors and lobbyists and concessions to different political constituencies. His cabinet is amazingly diverse, but he hasn’t made a single pick just to pay someone off or to satisfy some interest group. His picks are all qualified, and many of them are well positioned to get things done.”
Marcy Wheeler reports “Blagojevich’s SEIU Contact NOT Andy Stern … I guess all those nutters trying to take down Obama and Stern are going to have to work harder to make a mountain out of a molehill.”